Board member Dorothy Baumgartner recently took time to talk with us about work, life, and her service to the Whidbey Institute. She said she’s been inspired by the collaborations that happen at the Whidbey Institute, and the sense that this is a place where people can convene, get support, and feel inspired by others.
“I see the momentum that can develop when people inspired to change get together. It’s catalytic,” she said. “The Whidbey Institute has been a beacon—a place where there’s possibility—a holder of hope for what might happen.”
Dorothy joined the team in 2012, and was involved early on in governance, helping to update, synthesize, and clarify policies and procedures. She also helped bring a talented group of additions onboard the team in early 2013, including Cole, Sheryl, Christie, and Hilary. “We worked hard to nurture them, communicate well, and bring them on effectively so that they could be ready to go with a good sense of the work,” she said. That work paid off in spades, making the 2013-14 board a very successful and impactful one.
Dorothy has a decade’s experience in organizational leadership and design, but says her passion has been in higher education. “It’s is a place where significant change can happen,” she said. “It’s a nexus of possibility in leadership development for the next generation.” She’s currently working at University of Washington, Bothell as Director of the Student Success Center.
“I came back to higher education looking for a place where I could do integrative work,” Dorothy said. “We’re trying to help our learners really connect. They’re here not just to get a degree, but to make choices which attach to value, meaning, and purpose. Our work is to help them become more clear about those things that they wouldn’t get in a more traditional educational setting.”
In addition to work and volunteering, Dorothy sings with Island Consort, a semi-professional group, and is very invested in her family. She is rightfully very proud of her two teen daughters, Kari and Annika, who both attend South Whidbey High School. Last summer, Annika’s robotics team traveled to Romania and won the high school division of the Black Sea International ROV Competition and Exhibition—Europe’s largest underwater robotics competition. Now, she and her peers are helping to inspire S.T.E.M. education for girls around the world. Meanwhile, Kara is co-leading a team of S.W.H.S. students working through the International Business Assistance Program to help a group of people in Nigeria launch a food project.
“The world is so much smaller for our children and youth,” Dorothy said. “There are so many opportunities for them to engage in impactful ways.”